BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A Canadian man could spend a decade behind bars for allegedly trying to ship live snakes through the mail, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
These snakes include seven live ball pythons and three live albino western hog-nosed snakes.
The charges stem from the defendant's encounter with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Chicago, Illinois in February 2014, as he was making a trip from Toronto, Canada to Shanghai, China.
Chaoyi Le, 28, of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada was found to have 55 reptiles in his possession, many that are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). These reptiles included 19 ball pythons, eight surinam horned frogs, two tiger leg tree frogs, four red eye tree frogs, five crested geckos, four giant day geckos, a fisher chameleon, and 10 Jackson's chameleons. At the time, Le was charged by Violation Notice and he paid the fine of $5,000.
Then in April 2014, while entering Canada from the U.S., Le was stopped and had three live albino western hog-nosed snakes hidden in his socks. The U.S. Attorney's Office says Le indicated he was going to mail the reptiles to China. He then did not report for an appearance in federal court in September 2014.
On Friday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was made aware that Le was on a flight from Shanghai, China headed to Los Angeles, California. He was arrested when his plane landed in California. After appearing in the Central District of California, Le will appear in the Western District of New York at a later time.
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